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Like every other young artist that ever was, the young Beethoven sought a connection with the great artists that had gone before him, so one day he decided to worm his way into an introduction to the greatest composer of the time: Mozart. Some say the meeting was arranged beforehand, while others claim that the young Beethoven pushed his way into Mozart's apartment and when he found that Mozart was taking a nap he simply sat down in the piano and left a chord progression unresolved, forcing the music-crazed Mozart to rush out and resolve it himself. Whichever it was, Beethoven then offered to play one of Mozart's own pieces for him.
We happen to know of Beethoven's low opinion about Mozart's 'old fashioned' way of playing the piano (more clavier staccato than pianoforte legato). So we can assume that a large part of this historically hardheaded kid's performance was showing 'the old man' how much better his 'new style' of piano playing was than Mozart's. Catastrophe, of course: Mozart immediately stood up and demanded a stop to the music: "No. Don't play that!" Mozart is reported to have ordered Beethoven. "Play something of yours instead." Apparently too graceful to just kick the young Beethoven out the door so he could finish his nap.
Beethoven complied, of course. Engaging in some (perhaps spontaneous) improvisations of his own as he played the piano for Mozart, who immediately recognized the young man's creative talent: "Watch out for that boy," Mozart is said to have told his wife: "One day he will give the world something to talk about." Mozart even offered to tutor him, but too quickly Mozart was dead and Beethoven was left to seek some other teacher.
That would eventually turn out to be the great Franz Joseph Haydn, who agreed to give Beethoven 'some' lessons on contrapuntal composition. Catastrophe, of course: Beethoven proved himself to be a very intractable pupil, no doubt. And Haydn was certainly not at an age to be kind and understanding with some ungrateful stubborn young punk! Not only did Beethoven claim he never learned anything from Haydn, but for as long as he lived Haydn himself only spoke contemptuously of every attempt by Beethoven to write contrapuntal passages in his music.
Fortunately Beethoven had gotten hold of an old half-forgotten composer's collection of pieces we know as The Well-Tempered Clavier, by one Johann Sebastian Bach: These are 96 pieces comprised of 48 preludes, many of which use melodic lines harmonized and supported by chords and other snippets of supporting passages and harmonically broken chords (just like most romantic and subsequent music was to become after Mozart even unto the present day). And, most importantly: 48 wonderful, masterful, and straightforward contrapuntal compositions [fugues] as easy to understand as they are surpassingly powerful and beautiful--and, of course, instructive on the art of contrapuntal writing. These 98 little pieces Beethoven practiced and learned from as religiously as churchmen study the Bible (he tells us). "It should not be Bach," (a brook in German), "but the ocean!" And this was at a time when very few people yet knew of the unbounded genius of that old master J. S. Bach
One can hardly listen to the 9th Symphony now without hearing echoes of the lessons Beethoven learned from the many masterful lessons which are to be found in The Well-Tempered Clavier. [And, by the way, Mozart too discovered some of Bach's music later on in his life which also very perceptively changed his own approach to his own composition of music.]
So listen well to these little 'brooks' (Bach), as they are the source from which sprung the vast currents which Beethoven and all the other great composers after him gathered into form in their ever-growing headlong course down to the eternal sea of our universal shared humanity.
You may want to try to raise the bass a bit as these recordings are a little on the thin side.
Listening to these pieces I'd advise YOU to keep the volume down so you don't damage your hearing--especially with little headphones & earplugs [if you find you've hurt your hearing, then stop listening to loud music for a few days and you will usually recover UNLESS you keep listening to loud music for prolonged periods of time even after you find you've done some damage to your hearing].
BOOK ONE of The Well-Tempered Clavier Interpreted by S D Rodrian
Other S D Rodrian Interpretations:
The Goldberg Variations Interpreted by S D Rodrian
Bach's Keyboard French Suites Interpreted by S D Rodrian
Bach's Keyboard Partitas Interpreted by S D Rodrian
Bach's keyboard Toccatas Interpreted by S D Rodrian
Bach's Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue Interpreted by S D Rodrian
Bach Organ Favorites Interpreted by S D Rodrian
2 Beethoven Piano Sonatas Interpreted by S D Rodrian
Mozart's Piano Sonatas Interpreted by S D Rodrian
Chopin's Nocturnes Interpreted by S D Rodrian
Poems and Stories of S D Rodrian (SITE MIRROR)
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